Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jenny & François Fall Portfolio Tasting

Jenny & François' tasting is something that I have come to look forward to. They do everything right - they send their email advertising the tasting well in advance, they create a good physical space in which to taste, and they order the wines thoughtfully and encourage tasting in that order. And they provide brief but comprehensive notes on their producers and wines - all in the same order in which the wines are poured. On top of that, they're a lovely group of people, very friendly and eager to discuss their wines. Oh, and by the way, they're committed to finding and importing wines that are good for you. Wines that are made with organically and/or biodynamically grown grapes and with minimal intervention in the cellar - natural wines. Their website describes their philosophy rather eloquently and without any dogma.

My two favorite Jenny & François selections are wines that I would pour for anyone. Lassaigne's Champagne from the chalk hills of Montgueux is just a fantastic Blanc de Blancs. Intensely mineral and dry, broad and rich with great fruit, and very well balanced. Sadly, this Champagne seems now to have broken the $50 barrier. It used to be about $36, and I'm talking about a year ago.

And then there is Binner. I like every wine they offer, from the lovely blend called Saveurs Printanieres to the Gewurztraminer, the Riesling, the Pinot Gris, and even the light and incredibly drinkable Pinot Noir (not as crazy, though, about the Crémant d'Alsace). This is a super-solid Alsace producer whose wines cost no more than $25, and in some cases are under $20. That Pinot Gris and a plate of choucroute...or that Gewurztraminer and a bowl of spicy goulash...or that Pinot and a bowl of creamy mushroom soup...I'll take it.

The Jenny & François portfolio offers some of my favorite reds that cost less than $20. This, in my opinion, is the strongest part of the portfolio - the selections from southern France, country wines from the Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillan, and Provence. There must be 10 fantastic wines from these areas that should retail for $20 or under. Serious, delicious, terroir focused, food friendly, interesting wines.

Such as, in no particular order:

1) 2005 Hervé Souhart VdP Le Souteronne (100% delicious Rhône Gamay).
2) 2006 Gilles Azzoni VdP Le Raisin et L'Ange Fable (100% Ardèche Syrah for acid freaks).
3) 2006Estézarques Côtes du Rhône Gres Saint Vincent (a top scorer in the recent NYT piece).
4) 2006 Estézarques Côtes du Rhône Villages Les Genestas (same wine coop, I like this one even better).
5) 2007 Chemin de Bassac Isa VdP des Côtes de Thongue (typical Languedoc blend plus Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir)
6) 2005 Deux Anes Corbières Fontanilles (full of brett and fruit).
7) 2005 Domaine Rimbert Saint Chinian Mas au Schiste (Gorgeous!).
8) 2005 Les Tonnillières Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup (Gorgeous!).
9) 2005 Clos Siguier Cahors (a good decant, and beautiful - try with duck breast).
10) 2007 Estézarques Côtes du Rhône From the Tank (4 bottles in a box - and it's really good).

Here are my notes from the Spring Tasting, in case you're interested.

This is a importer worth watching, strong enough so that I would try a bottle knowing nothing other than the fact that Jenny & François selected it.


Director, Lab Outreach said...

Jenny & Francois are also on my list of back label favorites. They're the only importer I know who bring in the borderline nuts wines of Julian Courtois. His Colere de Zeus is fun just to watch change color in the glass. Not sure how they do it, but it must be made in a very reductive, oxygen free environment (guessing here). Because when you open and poor, you can watch it oxidize in the glass. It goes from from pale straw to a coppery hue before your eyes.

Michael D. said...


We may have been rubbing shoulders at the tasting.... I was there too and couldn't agree with you more on the beauty of all the Binner wines.

Anonymous said...

I have posted 3 more recent tasting notes on 3 Binner wines: Pinot noir, blend and Riesling.

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